The Voice of America (VOA) has launched a multimedia series that draws attention to the plight of millions in East Africa struggling to survive the region’s worst drought in decades. The series, “Drought Strikes the Horn of Africa,” focuses special attention on Somalia, where political instability and violence are greatly hampering efforts to deliver aid to almost three million severely malnourished people.
“Drought Strikes the Horn of Africa” highlights the unique resources that VOA can bring to a story. It is available in six languages — English, Somali, Amharic, Afan Oromo, Tigrigna, and Swahili – on television, radio, the Internet and mobile devices. It features on-the-scene coverage from VOA reporters in refugee camps, Mogadishu and other cities in Somalia as well as towns and camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. The reports document the refugees’ desperate search for food and water, as well as efforts by Al-Shabab militants to prevent food and water from reaching the refugees.
“By combining the resources of our Africa, English, and Central News Divisions,” VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch says, “we have made an all-out effort to provide audiences in Africa and the Diaspora the most in-depth, timely multimedia coverage possible.”
The chief of VOA’s Somali Service, Abdirahman Yabarow, relying on his contacts in Mogadishu and throughout East Africa, is one of the area experts who helped develop the series. Yabarow, whose expertise on Somalia is widely respected in Africa and the United States, was interviewed last Sunday on NPR’s All Things Considered, where he discussed the political situation in Somalia and the effect the recent withdrawal of most Al-Shabab militants from Mogadishu would have on efforts to bring relief to the desperate people in that area and elsewhere in Somalia.